Aviation safety investigations & reports

Piper PA32-300, VH-HOW, 30 Km NNE Murray Bridge SA, 3 August 1990

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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The pilot had planned a short local scenic flight for members of his family. The aircraft was thoroughly preflighted including a physical check of the contents of the fuel tanks. Enroute, the weather deteriorated and the pilot turned back along his outbound track. He reportedly became stressed due to the weather conditions and with the added anxiety of carrying family members. Approaching the Murray Bridge airstrip, the engine began to run roughly and the pilot assumed that it was running over rich. By this time, the aircraft was about 500 feet above ground level and just below the clouds. The pilot progressively completed a trouble check as he continued the return flight. In his stressed state, and with little familiarity with the position of the fuel selector, he forgot to include a check of the fuel tank selection and contents. The engine then coughed and stopped abruptly. With little altitude and time to select a forced landing site, the pilot chose the best field available. On final approach, the pilot selected mixture to idle cutoff and turned off the fuel. It was at this point, that the pilot discovered that he had forgotten to change fuel tanks and that the selected fuel tank had run dry. He elected to continue with the approach as he was close to landing. The aircraft landed among rocky outcrops and the landing gear was torn off. The aircraft skidded about 40 metres before coming to rest.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 23KB]
General details
Date: 03 August 1990   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1530    
Location: 30 Km NNE Murray Bridge    
State: South Australia    
Release date: 17 September 1990   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Minor  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Piper Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model PA-32  
Aircraft registration VH-HOW  
Serial number 32-40411  
Type of operation Private  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Parafield SA  
Departure time 1435  
Destination Parafield SA